Wausau East students work with artist to mix technology and art


WAUSAU – Students at Wausau East High School are creating a series of sculptures for the school grounds, thanks to the hard work of the students and the guidance of a Wisconsin artist.

Don Rambadt, a Milwaukee-based artist, guides a group of about 30 students from Wausau East through the process of creating original metal sculptures. The students, a mix of sophomores, juniors and seniors from the crafting and art classes, first met Rambadt on September 21 at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

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During their first meeting, Rambadt showed the students the collection of his works currently on display as part of the annual “Birds in Art” exhibition, of which he was the master artist this year.

Rambadt has been making art since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1994. Most of his sculptures are abstract birds made of different types of metals, welded together. He tried his hand at casting bronze, and once upon a time, in college, he even drew. But today he focuses on abstract works of art featuring birds, large and small.

While at Woodson at the end of September, the students had the chance to listen to the process behind the metal pieces he creates.

They were challenged to come up with different sculpture designs in mixed groups of tech and arts students. Josh Eberhardt, professor of manufacturing and technology, one of the teachers in charge of the project, said the teachers and Rambadt had encouraged the students to step out of their comfort zones for the first stage of the project, bringing together different skills that the Most of the students had. I don’t realize they were together.

“The most important thing we wanted the students to see was the crossover,” Eberhardt said of art and technology.

Arts students worked alongside tech students, bringing ideas to life through drawings on paper. Next, the students were challenged to create a 3D visual using card stock.

For Ben Diny, a senior manufacturing student, the project was a step out of his comfort zone, but a welcome challenge.

“I like how you can start with anything, as long as you’re open to it and where it takes you,” he said. “It’s cool to see the backstage work.”

Artist-sculptor Don Rambadt, from Milwaukee, works with students from Wausau East High School on their collaborative art projects on Thursday, September 21, 2017, at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wis T'xer Zhon Kha / USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Rambadt said he was never a fan of math and therefore didn’t give it the attention he probably deserved in school. Now, years later, he applies the principles of geometry to his work every day, he said, and uses the skills he learned all those years ago.

“When you learn something that you think you will never use, you have to realize that it is more than what you learn,” he said. “It’s a matter of mental capacity. You develop a way of thinking. You might never use that math, but you can use that way of approaching a problem.”

Second-year art students Savannah Carroll and Rayne Holmson were thrilled to meet an artist who is making a living out of her career, which they both hope to pursue one day after graduation.

“I thought about my career,” Carroll said. “And people always tell me to choose something realistic. It’s cool to see that (art) is possible.”

Holmson echoed her friend, saying the first session with Rambadt had been encouraging for her.

“It’s informative,” said Holmson, “to see how far you can go.”

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